So you’re writing a dissertation, Part 2


So, the Religion Graduate Student (RGS) has had about seven months to dig into the archival materials of the Nationwide Women’s Program at the American Friends Service Committee. In addition to reading through the corpus of newsletters from the Nationwide Women’s Program, RGS spent much of the summer studying the secondary literature including a number of scholarly works that she plans to model in her writing.

Conscious of her physical and psychological health, RGS’s weekly routine includes running, biking, yoga, and meditation. Despite this level of physical activity, some anxiety creeped in and butterflies fluttered as she looked up at the road in front of her. As she began writing she had to “conjure up all the powers of the universe” just to punch out a few words on the keyboard.

One thing RGS thinks a lot about is identifying a unifying strand that runs through her story. A good story is not sufficient for a dissertation. On top of the story she has to tease out its meaning within the larger context of religious and women’s studies. That’s the challenge she faces and there is no clear road map. She has got to draw her own.

My first interview with RGS was on February 19, 2010. This second interview took place on September 10, 2010. Listen to what RGS has to say on her progress so far.

—Fred Rowland

So you’re writing a dissertation, Part 1


In early 2010 I began interviewing a graduate student in the Religion Department about her PhD dissertation. I thought it would be interesting to listen to a graduate student as she navigated the dissertation process – which demands autonomy, originality, and a strong work ethic – from beginning to end. The dissertation is like a ritual initiation in which the student is dropped deep into an unfamiliar wilderness area with nothing but a compass and asked to find her way out. Though graduate departments, writing centers, colleagues, and friends lend whatever support they can, it is still an individual process and different from anything the emerging scholar has ever done before: produce an original contribution to her area of study and thus demonstrate that she is qualified to enter the academic profession. Likewise, the many hundreds of how-to books on completing the dissertation can only go so far. It is not surprising that many graduate students never make it all the way through. Perhaps interest in their topic wanes, or anxiety induces writer’s block, financial support vanishes, or other life opportunities arise.

In this first interview with my Religion Graduate Student (a.k.a. RGS), about two months have passed since she passed her preliminary exams. She is preparing herself emotionally, intellectually, and financially for the challenge ahead and has set herself an ambitious goal of completing her dissertation within one to one and a half years. She is working on a group of feminists from the American Friends Services Committee (AFSC) in Philadelphia in the 1970s that developed transnational networks to resist what later came to be known as globalization. She has to figure out how to tell this story, why it is important, how it relates to religion, and what it means.

I spoke with RGS for this interview on February 19, 2010.

—Fred Rowland

The Priest and the Prophetess, Part 2

Professor Terr Rey

Professor Terry Rey


In the second part of my interview with Professor Terry Rey on his new book, The Priest and the Prophetess: Abbe Ouviere, Romaine Riviere, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World, we leave Haiti and the Haitian Revolution behind. Romaine la Prophetess has disappeared and will soon perish in the flames of the revolution. That terrible conflict will continue alongside its European cousin, the French Revolution, until the early years of the next century. A hemisphere away, an exhausted Felix Alexander Pascalis Ouviere washes up on Philadelphia’s shores, having survived an attack on the British brig Catherine by a French privateer in Delaware Bay. Among his few possessions is a letter of introduction addressed to George Washington. Soon Dr. Pascalis will be treating yellow fever victims in that miasmic summer of 1793 in the company of such luminaries as Benjamin Rush. Abbe Ouviere is nowhere to be found.

Here is part two of my interview with Professor Rey. We spoke on September 25, 2017.

—Fred Rowland

The Priest and the Prophetess, Part 1

Professor Terry Rey

Professor Terry Rey


Temple Religion professor Terry Rey is the author The Priest and the Prophetess: Abbe Ouviere, Romaine Riviere, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World. In The Priest and the Prophetess he tells unlikely story about Abbe Ouviere, a politically astute, shapeshifting French priest, and Romaine Riviere, a religiously-inspired, cross-dressing, slave-owning Black military leader, whose lives briefly intersected in the chaotic early days of the Haitian Revolution at the latter’s coffee plantation turned mountain redoubt. Their encounter spanned a few days in which they celebrated the Catholic mass and concluded a military agreement. The fates of Abbe Ouviere, later known as Doctor Pascalis, and Romaine Riviere, whose nom de guerre was Romaine la Prophetess, turned out very differently. While Romaine was soon lost to history, the Abbe made his way to Philadelphia where he launched his medical career by caring for the sick during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic.

In part one of this interview, Professor Rey tells the story of Abbe Ouviere and Romaine Riviere at the start of the Haitian Revolution. In part two, we will follow the Abbe as he sheds his priestly past to become Doctor Pascalis of Philadelphia and New York.

Terry Rey and I spoke on September 25, 2017.

—Fred Rowland

Workshop: Protecting Digital Privacy & Security

Announcing two fall workshops sponsored by TUL Research Data Services

Protecting Your Digital Privacy & Security
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC), Ground Floor Paley Library

Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 11-12
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC)

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11-12
Location: Digital Scholarship Center (DSC)

Today’s digital technologies offer tremendous advantages, from quick access to information and effortless communications to convenient online shopping and commercial transactions. This ease of access can come at a price, however, as Internet providers and web sites track your online behavior and sell your private information and hackers seek to breach your financial accounts and intercept your personal and business communications. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself!

This workshop will provide tools and tips for protecting your digital security and privacy. Here are some questions we will answer:

  • How can I manage all my passwords?
  • What options are available for browsing anonymously online?
  • How can I chat online privately?
  • Where can I learn more about digital privacy and security?

Join us in October to learn more about protecting your digital privacy and security!

2016-2017 Livingstone Award Interviews

Here are interviews with three 2016-2017 Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award winners, speaking about their prize-winning papers.

Andrew Bertolazzi
Winner, Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Sustainability and the Environment
Decentralized Methods of Water Treatment for Reuse of Residential Gray Water


Jason Fontane
Winner, Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in the Social Sciences
The Immigrant Parent Disadvantage: Parental Linguistic Capital and Student School Performance


Lauren Ruhnke
Winner, Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in the Humanities
Constructing Native Homosexuality in British India

National Library Legislation Day

I attended the American Library Association’s 2017 National Library Legislation Day (NLLD) in Washington DC on May 1 and 2 and found it quite a rewarding experience. The interest in NLLD this year was particularly high and registration filled up early. This is not surprising since so many of the values that librarians hold dear are under threat. I met some really interesting public librarians from around the state of Pennsylvania. Listening to them speak about their work supporting and educating their communities renewed my faith in the importance of libraries.

NLLD is a two day event. The first day is a briefing on the legislative agenda of ALA and the second is devoted to outreach to congressional representatives and senators. On the morning of the second day I met (along with Christi Buker, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Library Association) with a legislative assistant of my representative to the 1st District, Robert Brady. In the afternoon we Pennsylvanians split into two groups and visited legislative aids to either Senator Toomey or Casey.

We presented and discussed the pressing issues of the ALA, the most important of which this year is funding. The Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget zeroes out all federal funding for libraries. The ALA is proposing a budget of $186.6 million for libraries. (To put this federal funding for libraries in perspective, this amount would be .029% of the proposed Department of Defense spending and .423% of Department of Homeland Security.)  Beyond funding, here are the priority issues that ALA is asking Congress to support:

  • Support Public Access to Government Data and Taxpayer-Funded Information and Research
  • Support Real Privacy and Surveillance Law Reform
  • Support Strong “Net Neutrality” Protections
  • Bring High Speed Broadband to Every Library and Support the E-rate Program Unchanged
  • Expedite Modernization of the Copyright Office and Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty

Detailed Issue Briefs – 2017 National Library Legislation Day

—Fred Rowland

The students we never see

Paley Library sees thousands of undergraduates each day in its information commons, books stacks, and study spaces, but there are thousands more we rarely see. Since librarians feel strongly that the materials and services we provide both enrich a students’ intellectual life and improve their educational outcomes, we are always looking for new ways to reach students.

On February 10th of this year, a small group of librarians interested in data and statistics met with an undergraduate senior majoring in Risk Management and Insurance (Human Resources track) in the Fox School of Business, Andrea Markofski. She caught the attention of one of our group by commenting on social media about her enthusiasm for a fresh new dataset from the Census Bureau. Since we have little contact with students from this major, we invited her to speak to us about her experiences at Temple. An articulate, candid, and personable individual, Andrea offered us the chance to speak with a student who rarely uses the library. This demographic group is both hard to reach and important for us to understand.

Andrea explained that undergraduate business students take an introductory course in risk management and promising students are encouraged (“tapped”) to major in risk management. Next comes a course that is known informally as the “risk management boot camp” which is a treacherous bridge that stops about half the students who attempt to cross over. Those who succeed select separate tracks such as actuarial studies or employee benefits. Andrea chose the benefits track and became an enthusiastic student.

Risk management is known as a major that leads to good entry-level jobs and great career prospects. When asked about the changes she had seen in the program since her freshman year, Stephanie explained that the program seems to be easing the demands of the boot camp so that more students can major in risk management. Although she enjoys her studies and is looking forward to a career in the field, she is aware of students in her program who are unenthusiastic and simply want to find a good job on graduation. To do her work, Stephanie favors studying in the Tech Center as long as she can find a separate cubicle.

Much of Andrea’s course work involves building and manipulating Excel spreadsheets (though she remembers using other programs occasionally). Her discussion of using linked tables left us with the impression that she was a sophisticated Excel user. The datasets that she uses in her course work are made available in her classes so that she has little need to search for additional data. Though she writes papers that require scholarly sources, she seemed unfamiliar with many of the databases we would suggest that she use. She commented that the databases we described – Risk Abstracts, Business Source Complete, or ABI/INFORM Complete – probably would have saved her some of the time she spent wading through Google search results.

There were some other resources we mentioned in order to gauge her familiarity with the library. As a power user of Excel we wondered if she knew of, a subscription database of tutorials on computer programming and productivity software. We also wondered if she had ever used Refworks, one of the citation management programs to which we subscribe. In neither case had she heard of these resources. For citation management, she turned to RefMan or other free citation management tools recommended by her professors. We were surprised to learn that she was unaware of annual Temple Analytics Challenge in the Fox School because she appeared to be an ideal candidate for the competition.

We would like to thank Andrea Markofski for speaking with us. We learned a lot from her and we look forward to speaking to more students in the future. If you have suggestions about how we improve our services, please feel free to contact us.

Fred Rowland, Rick Lezenby

Highlighting, Measuring, and Managing Your Research

Are you a graduate student or faculty member? Do you want to understand the current scholarly landscape for measuring, highlighting, and sharing your research?

zotero   academia   webofscience

Tools like Scopus, Web of Science, and Journal Citation Reports provide indicators of research productivity. Portals like, ResearchGate, Humanities Commons, and Google Profiles allow researchers to share their work and network with other scholars. Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley make organizing and sharing sources a snap. Publishing in open access venues and posting your research to scholarly repositories can enhance your research impact. Familiarity with these new tools and strategies helps researchers find colleagues, collaborators, and funders, as well as facilitates the tenure and promotion process.

The Temple University Libraries will be offering a series of four workshops in the Digital Scholarship Center on highlighting, measuring, and managing your research. Bring your laptop or borrow one in the DSC.

scopus   researchgate   mendeley

Workshop 1: Managing Your Research
Wednesday, March 29, 11-12, DSC

  • Attendees will gain an understanding of the features of these reference management and sharing tools and their areas of overlap with academic social networks. They will understand some key functional and disciplinary considerations when selecting the proper tool.
  • Register for Workshop 1

Workshop 2: Developing Your Scholarly Profile
Wednesday, April 5, 11-12, DSC

  • The professional and ethical uses of academic social networks such as ResearchGate and Academia as well as preferences of scholars in different disciplines will be explored.  We will talk about ORCiD and other researcher IDs and how they can be used to enhance your online profile.
  • Register for Workshop 2

Workshop 3: Amplifying Your Research Impact
Wednesday, April 12, 11-12, DSC

  • Attendees will learn how to effectively promote and share their research online. We will discuss best practices for using social media, explain how to deposit research outputs in disciplinary repositories, and explore tools and platforms that can help authors expand their readership.
  • Register for Workshop 3

Workshop 4: Measuring Research Impact
Wednesday, April 19, 11-12, DSC

  • Attendees will gain strategies for identifying and measuring their research impact using available online tools. Important buzzwords like citation metrics, impact factors, and the h-index will be explained and applied in a variety of disciplinary contexts.
  • Register for Workshop 4